As a human being, a shamanic practitioner and a death doula, I carry a banner with the motto "Permission, Intention, Compassion." This does not mean I am more successful than anyone else who holds those values high. Like now. I am struggling, even in this season of giving, with compassion. Here is what I see:
There is a generation of grinches out there. And I don't just mean in the halls of Congress, or on Wall Street. I mean right in our own communities and neighborhoods.
Their parents lived through a pandemic, a couple world wars and a Great Depression. They grew up after all that, in the booming times following that second war, during the rise of the Military Industrial Complex, a time when the Middle Class was as much as we would get in this country. Their generation is called Baby Boomer! They lived in houses with kitchens that had modern conveniences, probably a garage- maybe even attached to the house- and possibly even a swimming pool! They likely had moms who were there to cook and clean for them and to send them off to school and greet them when they came back through the door at the end of the day.
They very well may have become the hippies who threw off the perceived excess in which they were born and brought up, to travel aimlessly with little in their pockets and live communally, enjoying a different type of excess, with a call to "counterculture". Then eventually they settled down and "grew up" and got "real jobs" and maybe bought houses and had kids of their own- or decided not to go that route because of concerns about an exploding population contributing to the rape and abuse of Mother Earth and her organic denizens.
This generation had more, collectively and on average, than any generation before or after- and they currently sit in the spot of the wealthiest generation on the planet.
And they are grinches. They do not want anyone else to have even as much as they have, let alone a little- or certainly a lot- more.
Yes, I am talking about those aging politicians in Congress who have stuffed pockets and full bank accounts and hefty pensions upon retirement - though it's complicated- and hold sway over some of even the most private aspects of our lives. And the celebrities who enjoyed a lavish drug lifestyle of their youth and now embrace enhanced policing and the "war on drugs". And your neighbors, the ones who themselves rail against capitalism and the pillage of Mother Earth and her resources- all while doing their quiet part to reap and hold onto as much as they can.
This observation is not meant to incur mistrust in others. It is a puzzle, to me. But I know some of these people. Some I have called friends over the years. But as I myself age, just like all of us, I notice we do become more conservative in nature. Life closes in a bit. We find ourselves with less time and energy for what we may find to be "bullshit." We reduce the size and number of our social circles, and we make choices dependent on who we are at the core, what makes our heart and soul sing, and where we feel most vibrant.
At least I hope that is the case. In fact, I know several people at this moment who are struggling with fear and depression instead, missing critical soul parts and connections in Ordinary Reality. But that is a topic for another day.
Or is it? When searching for compassion for these people I mention above (and I do want to be clear that this is not a blanket statement, and I am aware there are outliers in any group), I find myself wondering how rich their relationships are- with themselves, their families, their friends, their communities. I wonder about the quality of their daily actions and interactions, as they place taking and keeping above other practices and values.
It is not for any of us to judge, even as we observe. We all come to life from different perspectives. And judgment denies permission and compassion, at the very least.
I welcome thoughts on this topic. It's been on my mind for quite a while, percolating, and I got out of bed early this morning to give myself the time to put these thoughts to words and to share. I hope you will share in return- Boomers too.